CSGL – Aloha

It’s been a well known fact to everyone around me that I’ve needed a vacation.   Case in point, my boss kept saying to me in our weekly one on one meetings, “Peggy, go on vacation.”  The only thing was, being a Crazy Single Girl, I didn’t really have anyone to go on vacation with.  I knew if I was going to take a vacay, I was going to have to go on my own.    The idea of going alone, didn’t really bother me, but I wasn’t sure where I should go.  I wanted to make sure that I would enjoy myself, so I wanted to make sure that there would be plenty of stuff for me to do, but also someplace where I could have some downtime, and that I could stay someplace nice.   Another concern was safety.  I didn’t want to be a worrywart, but I also didn’t want to spend even a single moment of my vacation feeling uncertain about being alone or worrying about getting lost someplace by myself where I might not know how to ask for directions.  So, I was undecided for several weeks about what I should do or where I should go.

Then one Sunday afternoon, I was sitting here on the couch with my cat, flipping channels trying to find something to watch on television, and came across a movie.   A very bad movie.  A very cheesy, bad movie that I’m embarrassed to admit that I watched five minutes of. It was a movie about a single woman who goes on vacation by herself to Hawaii.   And, yes, it was on Lifetime.   And yes, she ends up hooking up with a much younger man, who is, of course, a surf instructor.   (Bloody hell!)

Okay, awful, awful movie.   As bad as that DVD looks.   But it gave me a very good idea.

I started looking into vacation packages to Hawaii, and decided that the island of Kauai would be best for my purposes.  Mama Bear went there a couple of years ago, and told me about a kayaking trip she’d taken, and I’d wanted to try that kayaking.  So I booked my trip for the week of 4th of July.

And the lead up to the trip, and hearing everyone’s ideas and opinions about it, was almost as fun as the trip was.  I heard everything from “you’re going to be surrounded by newlyweds” to “you’re going to hook up with a surf instructor”  (reference Heather Locklear above and you’ll know that the women who said this have been watching too much Lifetime) and finally “Kauai doesn’t really have a hook-up vibe.”   I shrugged at it all, and said “whatever happens, happens; I’m open for anything,” but hooking-up wasn’t really my purpose for going.  I wasn’t going to turn down any surf instructors, and the thought of a vacation fling had crossed my mind, but I had no intention of cruising for them.  I wanted to get the heck out of Oakland, and I wanted to relax.  I wanted to spend some time in the sun, and I wanted to try some things I had never tried before.  More than anything, I was hoping I’d get bored.

Do you have any idea how long it’s been since I was legitimately bored?  Yeah, me neither, because it’s been that long.

So finally, after weeks of anticipation, the day arrived for me to fly away.  I arrived at the airport at the recommended time, about an hour and a half before my flight, only to find that the flight had just been delayed for four hours.   Crap.

I did what any self-respecting, self-sufficient CSG would do.   I found a bar, and I ordered a beer.   Within a few minutes, I realized that the guy next to me at the bar was on my same flight.  And he was alone!  And he was cute!   …..   And he was wearing a wedding ring.  Double crap.

To say that my first day of vacation was anti-climatic would be an understatement.  Originally I was booked to get into Kauai at 7:30.  Plenty of time to pick up my rental car, check into my room, and get the lay of the land.   I boarded my flight four hours late, and a couple of beers later.   I got into Kauai about 11:30, and by the time I got my bag and my rental car, it was well after midnight.  Oh, and my rental car!  I had booked (and prepaid) for a compact car.   I got in so late that all they had left were SUVs, which some people would see as a free upgrade, but I was not impressed.  I barely drive at home, and I do not know how to drive an SUV.  I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous about it.

I finally got to my hotel, and to my room, around 1:00 in the morning local time, so 4:00 a.m. at home.  I immediately made the executive decision that I was going to stay in bed until noon the next day.  The wild roosters had other ideas.

But I was stubborn, and I did not get up until noon, and then I spent the majority of the day by the pool.

In the afternoon, I sauntered over to the poolside bar, and found that it was happy hour, and they were serving $3 Mai Tais.   Lordy.  Now I always say you should never let a Mai Tai make a decision for you, but as long as you let them know who’s in charge, they’re a fine drink, and I mean, I was in Hawaii.  It’s kind of required.   I ordered a late lunch, had my Mai Tai, and I busted out my Kindle to do some reading. (I was reading a book about Nazi Germany – perfect light reading for poolside.)   It wasn’t very long before the first in a series of recurring events on that trip came to pass.

As I was sitting minding my own, a guy came up to the bar, ordered a Mai Tai, and asked me what I was reading.  He was quite a bit older than me, and, how shall I say this….not my type at all, but I told him what I was reading, and we started talking.  He moved to a sit nearer to me, and asked about my tattoos.  He started telling me about himself, he was divorced, and visiting Kauai with his two teenage sons.  He pointed even pointed them out across the pool.  Then things took a turn for the strange.  He proceeded to tell me about how he split his time working in DC, where he was from, and in Scottsdale, and that he had left his wife for a gal he met on eHarmony in Scottsdale.   So, yeah, he was selling himself really well.  Then he began launching into a borage of conservative political ideas, which pretty much killed the conversation.  He wasn’t very charming, and he certainly wasn’t a hot surf instructor.  Damn you, Heather Locklear.

I had no idea that this would be a trend.

That evening, as I was sitting on my balcony, I could hear a bit of music drifting up from the lobby.  I wasn’t really tired, having stayed in bed so late, so I decided to check it out.  I found my way to the lobby bar, where there was a guy playing guitar and singing, and sat down at the bar in front of the tele, hoping to catch some highlights from the ball game.  That was the night that I made friends with the bartender, E, which was probably the smartest thing I could have done.   Not too long after I had ordered a beer, a fella walked up to the bar, and sat next to me.

And here we go again.

I have to say, the second guy was not nearly as creepy.  He was actually kind of sweet, and wasn’t really hitting on me too hard. He was also divorced and there with his kids and extended family.  We talked a bit about activities, and he told me about a great cruise he’d done with his family, and told me about how he had booked it with the hotel’s concierge.   All the while, my buddy E was laughing at me.   It wouldn’t be the last time he was getting a laugh out of my time at the bar.

The next day, I got myself a nice breakfast, I spent a little time by the pool, I visited the concierge to book myself some fun, and it being the 4th of July, I went out to find some fireworks.  I went to the one official fireworks display on the island, Concert in the Sky.  It’s a typical kind of fair, with food and bands.   The bands were a trip, since they kept going back and forth between songs that sounded like traditional Hawaiian music and disco.  And they did it effortlessly.   As I was sitting there, I posted to Facebook “Sitting in a damp field listening to Hawaiian music and waiting for fireworks. Yay, America! No ka oi!”

And once the sun went down, explosions!

The next morning, I had to get up pretty early for my kayaking trip.  It was the only thing I felt was absolutely required on my trip, and the only excursion I had booked before I left.  The trip included a kayak up the Wailua River, and then a hike to Secret Falls.  I had never been kayaking before, and I was looking forward to it, but I was also a bit nervous, because the kayaks are built for two people, and I was by myself, of course.  Luckily, when I arrived, there was a family on the same tour, and they were willing to loan me their teenager to help me row my canoe.

They were really nice, and their kids were cool; they sort of adopted me for the day, and it turned out that they were also from the Bay Area.   I liked the kayaking, but I definitely enjoyed the hike even more.   It was pretty muddy on the trail, and I slipped quite a bit, but it was still a lot of fun.  I’d never been to the bottom of a waterfall before, let alone swam under one.

Definitely what made the trip was our tour guide, Jesse, who was a real character, with a lot of stories.  He, according to him, had done a hundred and one amazing and unbelievable adventures.  Unbelievable being the key word.   But he was a good storyteller.

But definitely the best part of it all was that there was a rope swing along the trail over the river.   That was another thing that I had never done, and I never thought I would do.   It was an amazing feeling to go flying on the end of a rope, but the most amazing part was letting go.    (There’s probably something to that, but that’s an entirely different post.)

The kayak ride back was not easy, and I was really tired, but I had also booked myself to go to a luau that evening.   Now, overall, the concierge hooked me up, however, the luau she helped me booked was not in any way a traditional luau.  They said that it was a Cirque du Soleil style.   Once again, I was a little bit nervous, being alone, of who I was going to be sat with at the luau.  I thought for sure that I was going to end up sitting a whole table full of newlyweds, but I was really excited because I got my first fresh flower lei of my life.

They also had a little craft section, and I bought the necklace you can see in the picture.  (I don’t wear a lot of jewelry, but I love this necklace.)   I was sat a table with an entire extended family, the grandmother, her kids, their spouses, and their children.  They were really nice, and I had a very nice chat with the Grandmother who was sitting next to me.  The only thing about them was that they weren’t at all impressed with the food.  I, on the other hand, had multiple servings.  So much good food.  Kalua pork, lomi lomi salmon, ono, purple sweet potato, mac salad, coconut curry vegetables, and of course poi.   It was so good.  Also, a couple more Mai Tais.

After dinner, there was quite the show.  Dancing girls, dancing boys, fire dancers, the works.   But kind of over the top, if I’m being honest.

And after the show, I got to take some more up close pictures of the performers.

You’d probably think after all that that I would be dead tired, and want to go straight to bed.   And you’d be wrong, because I was on my twelfth wind.   So when I got back to the hotel, I dropped in on E.  Since I was still wearing the lei, there were many jokes about it.  Of course, within fifteen minutes, a fella sat down at the bar next to me.  E was cracking up.   The difference was, this guy was not divorced.  His third wife was upstairs in their room.  Apparently they weren’t having as good of a time on their vacation as I was, and they’re relationship was falling apart.  So, it was a mix of him hitting on me, and bitching about being married.   And then he started giving me a hard time about wearing makeup.  My favorite was when I said something about my big floppy hat keeping me from getting sunburnt, and he snidely remarked, “how can you get any sun underneath all that hair?”  Charm personified?  No.  Piece of fucking work?  Hella.

Damn you, Heather Locklear!

The next day, I didn’t have any excursions planned, but I hadn’t seen much of the island, so I decided I would go for a drive.   It’s not a big island, so it’s really not a long drive, but there are lots of great spots to stop and take some amazing pictures.

It really is one of the most amazing and beautiful places.   It’s breathtaking, and these pictures, they don’t even do it justice.

I got back to the hotel, and had dinner at the bar.  It was going to be the last night that E would be working during my stay.  It was also, thankfully, the last night that I got hit on by an older divorced guy.   Now, mind you he, he wasn’t as over the top as the last guy, but true to form, it was an experience.   I have never in my life actually been patted on the ass by a stranger….until that night.    Had it happened under different circumstances, I might have punched him in the eye, and knocked him on his ass.   I don’t know why, but in that moment, I just thought it was hilarious.   Maybe it was because I was on vacation, and I figured it would be fun to tell the tale when I got home of the fifty-something year-old tire salesman (I can’t make this shit up) who patted me on the tookus, and who couldn’t remember my name for longer than five minutes in a row.

But I had to go to bed early, because the next day was the biggest day of them all, and also the earliest wake up call.  Normally I would say that you should never, ever get up before six when you’re on vacation.  But this was worth it.  The final thing that the concierge helped me book for my second to last day in Kauai was a catamaran cruise of the Na Pali Coast.   This is the cliff coast of the island that you cannot reach by roads.   You can only see it one of two ways, by sea or by air.

But did I mention that it was really early?

But I made it in time, and got on the boat, and we were under way.

The water was gorgeous, the views were gorgeous, the guys on the crew were…trying to be funny.  They were kind of funny.   Kind of.

And soon enough, we came across a couple sea turtles, who were way faster than my camera, and also, dolphins.

Part way up the coast, they dropped anchor, and we got to go snorkeling.  This was another thing that I had never done.   I didn’t have one of those underwater cameras, because I wanted to experience it more than take pictures of it.  Plus, I wasn’t sure that those things would take a very good picture, and didn’t want to waste my money.   It turns, out though, that I’m not very good at snorkeling.  My nose kept running in the mask, and sunblock got in my eyes.   So I kept coming up out of the water and rubbing my eyes and nose.   They had a crew member on a surfboard in the water to keep an eye on us, and he noticed that the mask was bothering me, so he started chatting with me, and invited me up on the surfboard to see some more dolphins that were swimming by.   Also, he taught me how to tandem paddle on the board.   Take that, Heather Locklear!

If you don’t know, and I didn’t before, tandem paddling involves the person on the back of the board, in my case the helpful crew member, has their face all up in your backside.  Of course he really wasn’t hitting on me, but so what?   At least he wasn’t 50, and, you know, weird.

After paddling and snorkeling, it was time for us to continue our cruise along the cliffs.  The cliffs are stunning.

It takes a lot of work to stay that pale in Hawaii, you know?

For my last day, I decided that I just wanted to take my time packing and checking out.  Ultimately, I ended up lounging by the pool, again, because relaxing and feeling the sun on my shoulders is definitely not something I get much of here in the foggy bay area.   I sat down with a notebook, and made notes about all my adventures, and even did a little work on a story I’ve been writing.  Finally, in the evening, I had to make my way to the airport.  I had a quick flight to Honolulu, and then the redeye back to San Francisco.

But my vacation did end on a very high note, as I made a new friend on the flight over to Honolulu, and friends who live on tropical islands are good friends to have.  I’m sure Heather Locklear would agree.

It was probably one of the best vacations I’ve ever had, and I’m really excited about the idea of taking more solo vacations.  I met a lot of really cool people, even if I also met some cheesy divorcees.  I don’t think I would have met quite as many people if I had been there with a friend, since I would have talked with them more than anyone, and not been as open to striking up conversations with as many people.  My favorite part was just how many things I got to do that I had never tried before.

I was really surprised when I got home, and so many people said to me that they were proud of me and that they thought I was brave for going by myself.  I hadn’t really put that much thought into it.  I just knew that I wanted to go, and I wasn’t going to let the fact that no one could go with me stop me.   Besides, going alone meant that I got to do whatever I wanted to do, and nothing I didn’t want to.

Mostly I came home feeling like there’s nothing in this world that I can’t do, if it’s what I really want.

And also feeling pretty damn good about how I look in a bikini for the first time in my whole damn life.

Just sayin’

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